#PubDay Book Review | “Chai Another Day” (Book Four: The Spice Shop Mysteries) by Leslie Budewitz a cosy mystery series by one of my favourite crime publishers Seventh Street Books!

Posted Tuesday, 11 June, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Books By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in [2016] as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction.

However, their imprints Seventh Street Books & Pyr were merged into Start Publishing in [2019] – wherein I had the pleasure of being approached by their new publicity team via Kaye Publicity this Spring wherein I was first introduced to the Spice Shop Mysteries as I was told about a forthcoming release this June – “Chai Another Day” for which I am receiving for review consideration. I decided to back-read the series as this marks the fourth in an on-going series. Uniquely enough, the first three were published by Berkley Prime Crime and the fourth installment is being published by Seventh Street Books.

I borrowed the first three novels in the Spice Shop Mysteries “Assault and Pepper”, “Guilty as Cinnamon” and “Killing Thyme” in paperback from my local library via inter-library loan through the consortium of libraries within my state. I was not obligated to post a review as I am doing so for my own edification as a reader who loves to share her readerly life. I was not compensated for my thoughts shared herein.

I received a complimentary copy of “Chai Another Day” direct from Seventh Street Books in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my thoughts shared herein.

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on why i was drawn into the spice shop mysteries:

You could say it felt like a homage to what I personally loved about being in the Pacific Northwest when I was eighteen – I had the chance to visit Seattle and Pike’s Place Market – it was a trip which left quite the impression on me. For starters, my aversion to sunshine was no longer an issue and my entire spirit soared without the oppressively volcanic presence of the Sun. The glare was gone being that I traded regions to where even sunlight filtered through clouds at a different angle than what I had become accustomed too. The whole setting in the West is uniquely different from other parts of the States – yet, it was the vibe of Pike’s Place which left the strongest impression.

Thereby, when I first learnt of the Spice Shop Mysteries – my heart hungered to read them, as any excuse to re-visit my memories spent walking through the marketplace would be a lovely excursion to take as it marked a moment in my life where I loved being in a walkable downtown which was vibrantly alive with merchants and artisans who were both approachable and hilarious to speak too.

Yes, I even saw the infamous fishmongers happily throwing their fish and trying to get everyone to celebrate the spontaneous joy in our lives. It was the blueberry vendors who struck a chord with my foodie heart – from their oils to their wines and how the magic shoppe and the Hollywood memorabilia shoppe left strong impressions due to the beauty of conversing with people with like-minded interests. The market itself had everything you needed for your basket and then some, replete with fresh cut flowers and other knicks or knacks you might not expect to find. Always a kind smile, a hearty laugh and loads of healthy sampling to see what your palette might appreciate eating.

I could see how a spice shop would thrive here – the downtown corridor in and round the marketplace itself had heaps of hills and it was definitely walkable as the traffic wasn’t (at the time) like other cities where pedestrians might struggle against the heavy flow and constant shifting of cars. After reading the author’s notes on behalf of the market today compared to the market I once knew myself – my memories are as old as Sleepless in Seattle as Pike’s Place then was most comparable to the one I saw IRL. I’m certain that the lay of the land now is quite uniquely different – from what she mentioned of the change in structures and buildings – not to mention the relocation of a highway! Laughs. I still remember how lovely it was to just be in a place where independent businesses were thriving and where it was possible to have personable conversations with the growers of the local produce, fruit, flowers, cheese and artisan goods. The concept is much more transparent nowadays across large and small cities alike but back then it was quite the extraordinary concept!

Now, if only spice shoppes and markets had caught-on in the slow food movement and were readily accessible as health food stores, now that would be progress I’d appreciate seeing come full circle into our everyday lives!

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Mostly though – what intrigued me the most is the publisher I know for publishing wicked good dramatic Crime Fiction was now enticing me to try their Cosy side of the ledger! I will also say, as the publisher changed hands – when the book arrived I wasn’t sure if there would be a change in style and format for the finished copies, as previously I had mostly received their (print) ARCs with a few finished copies here or there for Seventh Street Books.

Chai Another Day was happily a wider trade paperback edition – where you could easily open the pages, see the layout and even the font was easier on the eyes – if you directly compared this fourth installment to the previous three when the series was with Berkley. However, in regards to previous Seventh Street Books releases – the format was refreshingly new as they were the more standard version of the trade paperback than this particular one where it felt more akin to a 5×7 size than the regular versions your used to holding in your hands. I honestly preferred it for this Cosy as it made reading it quite the ease and after so many migraines plaguing me recently, ease of reading a story was priority one!

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#PubDay Book Review | “Chai Another Day” (Book Four: The Spice Shop Mysteries) by Leslie Budewitz a cosy mystery series by one of my favourite crime publishers Seventh Street Books!Assault and Pepper
Subtitle: A Spice Shop Mystery
by Leslie Budewitz
Source: Borrowed from local library (ILL)

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780425271780

Genres: Cosy Mystery, Amateur Detective, Crime Fiction


Setting: Pike's Place Market, Seattle Washington


Published by Berkley Prime Crime, Seventh Street Books

on 3rd March, 2015

Format: Mass Market Paperback

Pages: 289

Published By: Berkley Prime Crime (@BerkleyMystery)

imprint of Berkley Publishing (@BerkleyPub)

via Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

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Initially, I had planned to read the first *three!* novels in this series, however, after five migraines this past May, I decided to simply focus on “Assault & Pepper” as I couldn’t listen to the audiobooks either due to time constraints and the after effects of my migraines. As you will see, the first novel in the series held my interest at first but that interest waned a bit once I was settled inside it. I decided to forego the first novel, as I had a proper sense of the setting & the way in which Ms Budewitz wanted us to feel a part of this world to where I moved directly into “Chai Another Day”. I think you might be pleasantly surprised by what I found inside the fourth novel,..

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my review of assault and pepper:

I could immediately relate to two things: temperatures below seventy-five and smelling Autumn through a palette of spices and herbs! There is something to be said for calmer climes and the foods which speak to our souls during the different seasons of the year. For me, I could skip over a volcanic Summer and a nausating Spring full of allergens in exchange for a calmer cloudy and grey environment wherein the air is crisper, the produce is healthier and your sense of season was a gentler influence than an abrasive and blundering thundercloud of insanity. Already, as soon as I started reading Assault and Pepper, I was clued into how much angst I have living where I do.

The irony of course, is they are lamenting about the uses of spice for fish and meat; something which would never interest me (save the odd scallops here or there) as I’m a veghead vegan in the making! I’d rather know how you could grill, roast, saute and otherwise dress your veg and fruits than know about the dry rubs you need for a carnivore. Despite that – the aromas and aromatics they are inviting into my sensory memories reflects my own spicy life as a home cook as I have the tendency of appreciating the warmer spices throughout the year. It isn’t that I don’t like lighter foods but my wheelhouse always includes the posher spices of India or the flavourings of the Mediterranean. You can do loads with those spices – they indulge your creativity – especially once you master Garam Marsala and Turmeric!

The specialty tea blends, ah, now your talking! I love loose teas but I have to be careful with them as sometimes I opt instead for the bags as the loose varieties can be a bit strong even if your a careful steeper! The interesting bit is that I’ve learnt recently how you can cook or bake with tea blends – something I hadn’t realised in the past and I’m keen to explore it in the future.

I could definitely relate to Reed – I have a penchant for finding new ways to incorporate curry (the spice) into a lot of what I’m choosing to cook. By the time they were contemplating what to do with roasted squash and how to spice up their oatmeal, I had heard enough to know I wished this shoppe was a viable one in our own reality! Definitely keen on how I’m not the sole home cook who likes to switch things up in her saute pan, too! I also had a mad hankering for their tea samplers as although I prefer the warmer teas (full-on spices) there are a few floral teas I don’t mind though nothing overtly fruity as that’s just wrong.

Pepper’s ex-husband reminds me of why I enjoy the Coffeehouse Mysteries – these two series share that in common; where the ex-wives have moved forward with their lives but their exes haven’t quite caught on to the fact that some woman really do not want to reconcile the marriage they’ve divorced. Tag seemed to be the kind of bloke who liked to flirt no matter what his ex felt about him; almost as if it was its own inside tongue-and-cheek game between them – even if of course, from Pepper’s perspective it wasn’t likely to progress past the playful exchanges. On her end of it though, I sensed she liked her independence and enjoyed being single – or maybe, I was picking up on the fact she was thankful she was no longer married to Tag. It could swing either way – still too early-on to know what drew them apart to begin with and what led to the divorce.

I could dearly live with less than 100 days of sunshine – reading the average for Seattle is 58 (chapter two’s trivia) felt like a blissitude when your used to 300+ days of liquid gold ready to bake you alive. Honestly – grey skies and drizzly rain are a balm to a girl’s soul when your left with hardly any ounce of outside sky that isn’t a brutal reminder of how close we are to the sun. I always feel like becoming a hibernating bear – one that breathes relief in Autumn and tucks back into a cave by mid-Spring as Summer has a wrath I never adjusted too.

I’d love to try a dish I read about – substituting the clams for scallops but pairing it with the prescribed curry with chicpeas, rice and spinach. I’d have more than a basket of fresh naan to pair it with as much as I would a white wine. The dish sounded divine – though I would add a few more spices and dress everything up to my own taste profiles – evenso, the bare ingredients gave me enough of a foodie inspiration to think over!

It was shortly after getting the lay of the shop and her neighbours, where we peer into the curious lives of her co-workers and those who frequent the streets set round the spice shop itself. Ironically or not, the dead did not take long to make their presence known but even I was a bit surprised whom the deceased happened to be that fateful day she went to work. It is not something you’d expect to find outside your place of business and I suspected Pepper was taking it a bit harder knowing the curious questions she had about the person just a day prior to his death. This wasn’t a section of town with a lot of hidden secrets (though perhaps in the background, of course!) as what is on the surface to observe is truly what is there to be found: friendly and engaging people who all share a love for this part of Seattle. It was a fixture and a hub of commerce where residents and visitors alike liked to frequent – therefore, it was a bit of an interesting turn finding a newer person to this environ had met his end.

Pepper has been experiencing a lot of marked changes in her life – whilst the moment has come for her to not just embrace this transformative period but to take ownership of it. Something she explores when she realises that nothing has outwardly changed since she first took over the spice shop – meaning, she needs to reinvent how she wants to present her store to the outside world and that in of itself combined with doing a few kind things for herself granted her the ability to rise into a new era of the store itself. It wasn’t easy – nothing every is when your leaving behind one part of your life in exchange for another but so too, can be said for having the courage and the confidence to make changes in how the public perceives your business. You had to give your hat off to Pepper to not just develop those changes but to find the process to be personally cathartic!

One of the under currents of the narrative was the kindness we all should have and show to the less fortunate in our communities. I agreed with where the author was taking this message – about how kindness can affect hearts and by keeping ourselves in the goodness of the light, we can effect change at least in the short-term. This was in response to a portion of the story revolving round the homeless and how people who live on the street are sometimes overlooked, judged and otherwise cast aside by others who have more than they do. It is also a keen observation about people’s habits and the lengths some might go to avoid certain groups of people. Towards that end – this whole section of the novel I felt was dealt with well and also with a compassionate eye for not just the details for those circumstances but the heart of the matter too.

Although I had some issues with the pacing within the initial opening bridge to the quarter section of the novel – the pacing did resolve a bit thereafter though overall, I was still struggling to feel rooted into the story-line. Budewitz cleverly works round the key issues Pepper has in not being able to sleuth in the ways we’re accustomed to seeing in Cosies whilst at the same time – some of that does have the tendency of dragging out the information she can gain and the information we need as readers to better understand the flow of the story.

The police of course run interference with Pepper – as their investigation keeps taking them back to her and the shop; whilst her co-workers want her to be agreeable to the process, you can tell Pepper has a conflict of conscience about not becoming more proactive on the outside to better understand why the police have cornered one of her employees to be the guilty party. From there, the story moves back and forth – between becoming further interesting and a slightly dull. I kept waiting for this story to pick up a bit – where the pace would feel more exciting and how what Pepper was doing to attempt to solve this case would feel worth the grudge of the previous chapters which truly weren’t holding my interest very well at all.

Even the co-workers were a bit of a let-down as I couldn’t really connect with them – they felt a bit removed from the story in of itself as well. Again, if I had to cross-compare this series I almost felt what I loved about the Coffeehouse Mysteries is how it is set, paced and executed. You never have to wait for something interesting to happen and how the story is disclosed continues to churn your curiosity to seek out the rest of the case to unfold. I didn’t have that same vibe when I was reading the Spice Shop Mystery – in fact, I honestly kept wondering when the story would grow some teeth so I could better understand Pepper, the ensemble cast and how this series is anchoured out from this shaky beginning.

Try as I might I just couldn’t get invested into this story – it fell short for me and the expectations I had for it to be a winning start to the series. I wasn’t sure if the pacing would correct itself within the sequel or the third installment or if I would have to wait until the fourth novel Chai Another Day as that is the one being released by Seventh Street Books. Overall, this first installment was a bit lackluster and I decided to stop reading it as it was clearly not my cuppa tea. The setting interested me greatly – from Seattle to Pike’s Place to the concept of the spice and tea shop – its just how the story unfolded that I found to be dull round the edges. Sadly not even the mystery within this installment interested me once I found out who was involved and potentially who might have been behind it.

Small Fly in the Ointment:

The only bit I was slightly confused by is how Pepper was actually going to sleuth in the story? She has a finger pulse on what is happening because of the position of her spice shop and the crime; but whenever she is seen to ask enquiries about what is happening – even her ex-husband Tag whose a cop is blocking her path towards gaining any information. The best Cosies for me are the ones where the amateur sleuth has some kind of leeway towards endeavouring to sleuth alongside the detectives and/or they can use their localised influence to gain knowledge about the people of whom are involved in the crime itself. Although I know Pepper has an influence on the group of persons involved in this Cosy, what wasn’t entirely clear to me is how she augments herself away from the spices and tea environment as a business owner into the vein of sleuthing – as whenever she attempts to break into the case, she’s heading into more obstacles which leads her back to the spice shop rather than on a path towards understanding the crime?

This was where I felt the series diverted from the Cosies I’ve read in the past – as although I love how the environment of her shop is well developed, I was struggling to see how her position in downtown Seattle was going to affect how she performs as a sleuth. Meanwhile, Budewitz does well in peppering in a strong portrayal of the setting but part of it felt more like it was being told to us vs letting us experience it for ourselves. Almost like we had to know certain details before we could see them organically coming into the background of the story. I know there was a lot of change to the location IRL but as this is a fictional accounting of Seattle, I don’t believe we had to worry to much about those particulars as you still have the firm essence of Pike’s Place which is more central to the plot than anything else.

Pacing:

This has to be one of the first Cosies where I can honestly say the pacing was letting me down – whenever I thought we would gain an inch towards having Pepper break-out of her habits at the shop or find traction with the people she was talking too in the neighbourhood – we pulled back and re-settled into the routine at the spice shop again. Almost too much so as I was questioning the merits of having Pepper seen busy at her shop vs attempting to solve the crime at hand. I think there should have been more segues away from the shop or as she has quite a few co-workers, it would make sense if she strictly left to investigate and left her co-workers in charge of the day to day expenditures? I was hoping this would work itself out – in the first quarter of the novel it did annoy as like I said, this series broke the tradition of what I enjoy about Cosies develop into a focus of how the person sleuths and how they are able to get the information they need.

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Notation on Cover Art Design: I love how they thought enough to ensure Arf is featured on the cover as he’s a big part of Pepper’s life right now! I also liked the individualised focus of the spice shoppe in this cover art as it gave the aesthetic a lovely sense of welcome. If you look at all the covers side by side – they truly kept the continuity but also, the allure of why this kind of shoppe is fun to tuck into to see what is new and what interesting combinations Pepper & her team can give you!

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#PubDay Book Review | “Chai Another Day” (Book Four: The Spice Shop Mysteries) by Leslie Budewitz a cosy mystery series by one of my favourite crime publishers Seventh Street Books!Chai Another Day
Subtitle: A Spice Shop Mystery
by Leslie Budewitz
Source: Direct from Publisher

Seattle Spice Shop Owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.

As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder.

Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend -­‐ and Pepper herself.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781633885363

Genres: Cosy Mystery, Amateur Detective, Crime Fiction


Setting: Pike's Place Market, Seattle Washington


Published by Seventh Street Books

on 11th June, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 231

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The Spice Shop Mysteries:

Assault and Pepper by Leslie BudewitzGuilty As Cinnamon by Leslie BudewitzKilling Thyme by Leslie Budewitz

Assault and Pepper | Book One

Guilty as Cinnamon | Book Two

Killing Thyme | Book Three

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The fourth novel & the series overall
is now being published by Seventh Street Books!

Published By: Seventh Street Books (@SeventhStBooks)

imprint of Start Publishing

Chai Another Day | Book Four

Be sure to visit the Mystery Lover’s Kitchen blog for a chai-tastic recipe!

→ Book Five *announced!* → *forthcoming!* April, 2020!

Converse via: #SpiceShopMystery + #Mysteries OR #CosyMystery

About Leslie Budewitz

Malice 2014 teapot and me (Leslie Budewitz)

Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in two light-­‐hearted mystery series: the Spice Shop Mysteries, set in Seattle, and the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in northwest Montana. Her books focus on strong women who share her passions, and have a talent for finding trouble!

Leslie is the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her guide for writers, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure, won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction.

A Montana native, Leslie graduated from Seattle University and Notre Dame Law School. After practicing in Seattle for several years—and shopping and eating her way through the Pike Place Market regularly—she returned to Montana, where she still practices law part-­‐time. Killing people—on the page—is more fun.

A true believer in the power of writers helping other writers, Leslie served as president of Sisters in Crime (SinC) in 2015-­‐16, and a founding member of the Guppies, the SinC chapter for new and unpublished writers. She is the Montana representative to the board of the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and is also a member of the Authors of the Flathead and Montana Women Writers.

Leslie loves to cook, eat, hike, travel, garden, and paint—not necessarily in that order. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, Don Beans, a singer-­‐songwriter and doctor of natural medicine, and their gray Tuxedo, named Squirt but usually called Mr. Kitten. Because what else would you call a 13-­‐year-­‐old, 17-­‐pound killer and cuddler who always dresses in formal attire?

Photo credit: Deborah Lacy

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my review of chai another day:

The wit and banterment I previously loved finding in Assault and Pepper has come home to roost in Chai Another Day! As soon as you open the novel, the very first collection of sentences is going to tickle your funny bone, rib you into a roiling state of laughter and make you feel wicked glad you’ve given this fourth installment a moment of your time! If anyone can match my discontempt for weather it would be Ms Budewitz! She’s given Pepper such a charmingly brilliant way to express herself, I almost felt like those of us who could relate to her sentiments owe her a big hug of gratitude! It isn’t everyday you see where someone has the knack for criticising local weather patterns and doing it with a heap of moxie!

One of the more interesting notes of course, is how the Pacific Northwest climate has altered itself since I was last there – no humidity and no sweltering heat baths were experienced, which is why it seems dearly removed from the Seattle I once knew vs the Seattle of today. I’ve known the climate out there has changed as I know someone who lives south of the city – however, it all seems so dearly radical for the climate to take a nosedive into the volcanic insanity the rest of the country has to endure every Summer! The PNW was always a sweet haven of luxurious weather patterns where you didn’t have to be afraid of your skin roasting faster than your BBQ!

I was enjoying the reprieve with Seetha as much as Pepper when of course death invertibly waits for no man or woman – which is why the transition into the crime scene was both a delightful switch-up from the first installment (in regards to pacing and delivery) but held with it a bite of remorse because I had already known how hard Pepper works herself at the spice shoppe to the brink that any time she has leftover she diverts to other people outside of her own self care. This was the one moment I honestly saw her giving herself a bit more regard than her close friends or her neighbours who were business owners just like her- carving out their living in this vibrant place in the city.

One distinctive thing I’ve noticed in deference to Assault and Pepper, Budewitz has found her rhythm with the series. The pacing feels much more organic and it isn’t as rushed – meaning, rather than spending inordinate about of time in the spice shoppe itself – there is better balance between Pepper’s personal life, professional life and the down-time she likes to spend with her friends. Everything has a better entrance and exit in the flow of narrative to the point where I am eagerly awaiting the new chapters to see what might become revealled or where I might have missed a clue that could have been foreshadowed. I am so thankful, Budewitz found herself within the series because now it has such a wonderful ease about it – you can readily feel happy to soak inside one of these mysteries and stay for a spell whilst you brew your own cuppa of the latest concoction everyone else is already enjoying!

I can see how Pepper doesn’t want to fall into that habit of having a niche market within your target demographic run all your efforts down the drain – as she tries to broker the interest people have in her teas against the main focus of the cookery delights she tries to inspire them into seeking out with her ready-made spice packets for quick-fix dinners! I, must admit, on both counts, she’s won me over! It would be most ideal to have this kind of market locally – where you would know the source of your herbs and spices, as much as the limited line of teas. It is very difficult to trace the origins of herbs and spices these days and to have a whole shoppe dedicated to their commerce I still think is a wicked wonderful idea.

I am thrilled seeing Pepper much more relaxed! Nate (the professional fisherman) is really good for her as he seems to bring balance into her life which I felt she dearly needed all along. She’s also less tense and less anxious when he’s around; almost like she has settled in her being and doesn’t feel she has to prove herself to everyone anymore. Budewitz has found a way to soften Pepper and I can attest that the changes are a welcoming sight. I also picked up on the fact that having her mother round her a bit more than in previous years was also aiding to her comfort. She wasn’t isolated and alone; she had people around her and she knew she was safe within her fold.

One of my favourite scenes of course, being a girl who adores her chai was when Pepper took to the Market (Pike’s) to scavenger out new ways of using chai – both as the key ingredient and as a spice profile in different savory and ambrosial foods. It was there where I wish you could transport yourself straight through the pages of a novel because I would have loved to have taken that foodie route with her sampling which version of the chai tempted my palette the most! This is one reason having her kind of shoppe must be a wicked sweet adventure! Each time you go to make a new combination for your customers, it would lend itself to discovery and research; imagine spending your hours visiting with neighbours and fellow independent businesses to seek out what the best representation would be for a spice blend you wanted to sell? To encourage the creativity of your customers but also to enlarge their capacity to sample foods in their homes based on the foundations of the spice(s) themselves?

You have to give Pepper credit where it is due – she doesn’t let the police bully her out of helping her friends nor does she let them dictate what she can and cannot do. In similar fashion of my favourite televised sleuthing teams, Pepper works well with her friends, sorting out plausible explanations for what is happening to them and moving forward all the better for the discussions. The only curious note there is how her ex-husband seems to be up to mischief of his own. He doesn’t take separation well at least not when it comes to Pepper which you’d think he’d understand better being a cop on a bicycle duty! Yet, there you have it – a ready made brewing coming of heads between a wife and her ex-husband.

Pepper has a heart of gold – when she’s not working out the plans on which spices are best to assemble for her customers per each new season which begins to arrive as soon as she notices the changes in weather, she’s most concerned over her staff. Though not one to wish to cross any line in the sand in that particular regard, her heart still goes out to her staff whenever she feels their either holding something back from becoming disclosed to her or they seem to be going through something they cannot yet bring themselves to discuss. In this way, Pepper keeps the peace but she also keeps the confidences of those she employs. She lets them have the discretion they haven’t ask for whilst she finds clever ways to cover their shifts.

Meanwhile, the more she delves into the history of the business most affected by the recent death in her Market community the closer she comes to realising that some people put up quite a bit of a mask towards not allowing anyone to truly see themselves or what their business entails. With that kind of subterfuge you do wonder how Pepper is going to untangle the mystery before time lets out. Further curious was how one of her friends’ had a Mum who wanted to ‘pass off’ a particular tasting chai as her own but with a hidden secret about its truer origins! I was quite taken by that sidestepping mystery because it would be easily conceivable when it comes to tea, spice and herbs – if someone wanted to pull a fast one, all they would have to do is outwit the person they were attempting to fool. Though the reasons why someone would wish to do that were a bit more elusive!

I was thankful to see the men on the street were back – they looked out for Pepper and she looked out for them, treating them with kindness and gave them a listening ear whenever they needed one too. They were the men who saw more than most and who didn’t question people’s behaviours until of course something went afoul as it did during Assault and Pepper. When Pepper mentioned the recent shortage of funeral homes, I wondered if the real reason that might be wasn’t due to an absence of faith-based decedents but rather a concern for the welfare of the deceased in regards to burial options? Seattle has a strong history of earthquakes with a potential for extreme natural disasters to wreck havoc both inland and on the coastal boundaries of both the city and the state overall; I was curious if perhaps they shifted away from full service burials to cremation instead to give people an option which didn’t break future grief to families who might question the legitimacy of a traditional burial in a state which had such adverse environmental crises ahead of it.

There is an entire subplot involving the personal health crisis of one of Pepper’s employees (Cayenne) which I felt was written rather beautifully because I have personally known people with this condition IRL. The medical diagnosis can be grueling enough but its the sense of self and purpose that can wreck the most duress in the person’s life post-diagnosis. This is why I was very thankful to see how Budewitz handled the situation – how she gave compassionate empathy to Pepper and her co-workers whilst no one outwardly judged what was happening until they were given more details about the condition that would become a chronic battle for Cayenne.

The main mystery was quite a complicated affair – it held pieces of curious enquiry early-on in the discovery of the crime but as I was quite caught up in the day to day operations of the spice shoppe and the goings-on of Pepper’s personal life, I hadn’t quite pulled all the pieces together until nearly the last quarter of the novel! Mostly too, as Budewitz held my attention with a more taut pulling of the drama in this installment – she had a better balance between her sequences and segues, giving me ample time to enjoy each of the revelations without feeling like the tempo had changed within the waltz of the story.

For those readers who love Asian Art History and Asian artifacts, they are in for quite the treat of the eyes – as a lot of the back-story involves quite a bit of relics which play their own part in laying down the foundation of the crime itself. The pieces are museum quality and are aptly described by Budewitz giving the reader a lovely interpersonal viewing of Asian culture through the craftsmanship of the pieces and the legacies they provide in of themselves.

The beauty of reading a Cosy is being tucked inside a mystery you can handle – thereby giving you leverage of joy to appreciate the atmosphere behind the mystery and to tuck closer to the lives of the characters who are populating it. I felt closer to Pepper in this installment inasmuch as I felt her life was on a upturnt tide of change. She truly was finding her wings in life, sorting out what she wanted and remaining true to her course. The fact she is finding others who want to be with her on the adventure is part of the spice in her life she was not expecting!

I’m quite eager for the fifth novel of the Spice Shop Mysteries,..
especially as I’m dearly curious about Nate & Pepper,
whilst I was hoping Cayenne’s role might expound a bit more as well as Seetha’s!
Overall, you just want to spend more time at the spice shoppe & watch their
lives knit together into the future!

On the cosy & mysterious styling of leslie budewitz:

Ms Budewitz’s style has aged gracefully within this series – to where, you can sip her words as you would wine finding a tempo of hilarity as you move through her passages wherein Pepper is still the fiercely independent shoppe owner with the sharpened tongue and keen sense of order in her neighbourhood! She tells it like it is and doesn’t let up just because your not accustomed to her style of conversation! The moment you hear her discussing what the Seattle weather will do to you – body and spirit alike – you know you’ve returnt to her corner of the downtown area! She likes to mix her metaphors with a heap of sass and its that kind of sass which makes me wicked happy for meeting her against the pages once more! She has a cleverly spun sense of self and it is how she chooses to articulate her moods which is most fascinating I think, as it hinges against the environment and the current state of the shoppe against the economic ties of the Season!

Her one liners on page one of Chai Another Day are enough to send me into a tailspin of immediate joyfulness! I could quite literally quote her every which way to Sunday just to prove the pudding about how keenly aware she is about how humour and localised trivia walk hand in hand! She has a wicked bent on the locality of the series, giving the humour a personalised effect and this reader especially loves her instincts for rooting you right in place the moment you walk back into her series!

Similar to what the authorities must have contemplated about Cabot Cove (and the sleuthing habits of Jessica Fletcher), I liked how Budewitz added that side note about Pepper’s curious habit in stumbling into crime scenes whenever one alighted in her vicinity!

As I skipped straight into the fourth installment from the first, I wanted to say, you won’t miss a detail – Ms Budewitz has found a way to entice us forward in the series where we find it now with the benefit of information not previously known in small intervals which make wicked sense to be inclusive of the areas in the narrative where they are being shared. I liked how she approached this aspect of the novel – she didn’t do any info dumps and she didn’t take you out of the momentum established in this mystery either. If anything, she walked that fine line between keeping your eyes on the current situation and back-stepping a bit (just enough, really!) to give you a firmer and rounder sense of this world. So much so, I almost felt this might be a renewing start to the series – wherein you wouldn’t have to worry about back-reading the previous three novels.

Learning about Herbs and Spices:

Being a foodie girl at heart, the main reason I love disappearing into Foodie Fiction is the chance to get familiar with aspects of cooking and/or baking I haven’t encountered previously. Here is one example – at the head of the very first chapter within Assault and Pepper – I learnt that cilantro and coriander are one of the same – except for how their procured. It is this kind of tidbit of information I love discovering and I am wicked thankful Budewitz includes such lovelies to not just entice yourself to deepen your appreciation of foods but to become more articulate in how you talk about the foods you love the most!

About those recipes in the Appendix!:

I definitely want to assemble my own spiced chai recipe and I am so very thankful one was included in the back of the book! Cosies which include their own section of recipes are the #randomJOY of mysteries! Especially for those of us who love to cook, experiment with ingredients and try our hand at something delightful delish and new! When I realised the author’s connection to the Mystery Lover’s Kitchen, I wasn’t a bit surprised there would be recipes – I’ve been a long-term fan of the blog as has my Mum! We’ve tried different recipes over the years and of course, I love the Coffeehouse Mysteries themselves. How lovely I was able to read another author’s stories who is also a foodie at heart like Cleo Coyle!

I heart gazpacho like you wouldn’t believe but I’ve never made it from scratch, so thank you for blessing me with that recipe Ms Budewitz! As much as the fact I cannot eat nor bake ENOUGH pumpkin spice to save me in the Autumn! Now I have a lovey new snickerdoodle to try out, too! I’d make the Pink Lady but I’m not a gin girl – I prefer vodka. Unsure if you can switch out the two?

I must admit – that spiced chai coffeecake is calling my name something fierce!! Perfect pairing with the hot spiced chai or your family’s next coffee klatch!

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This book review is courtesy of: Seventh Street Books

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading these stories counted towards my 2019 reading challenges:

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Assault and Pepper”, “Guilty as Cinnamon”, “Killing Thyme”, and “Chai Another Day”; along with the synopsis, author biography and the author photograph of Leslie Budewitz as well as the logo badge for Seventh Street Books were provided by Kaye Publicity on behalf of Seventh Street Books and are used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. 2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission. Beat the Backlist banner created by Austine at A Novel Knight and is used with permission. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 11 June, 2019 by jorielov in 21st Century, Amateur Detective, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Detective Fiction, Lady Detective Fiction, Modern Day, Pike's Place Market, Seattle, Washington, West Coast USA




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